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KNOXVILLE – When a singer-songwriter sits down to write lyrics and create an accompanying melody, math and biology usually don’t make their way into the musical equation.

However the songwriter-in-residence program at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, science makes the cut every time.

NIMBioS is sponsoring the program to encourage the creation and production of songs involving ideas of modern biology and the lives of scientists who pursue research in biology. The singer-songwriters spend a month at the institute, interact with scientists and compose songs based on the experience.

“With science, just like athletics, business, and anything else, what sets people apart from the rest, are those who are passionate. The goal of the Songwriter-in-Residence program is to produce songs that celebrate the passion scientists have for their work,” said NIMBioS Director Louis Gross.

Jay Clark, songwriter-in-residence for January, has a Ph.D. in wildlife ecology and has been a part-time wildlife researcher for the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries at UT Knoxville. In a mini-concert performed for NIMBioS scientists and staff, Clark revealed a song from his residency repertoire called “Sexual Selection.”

Clark’s song will air on WUOT 91.9 FM, UT Knoxville’s public radio station, on the March 2 episode of Studio 865. The show also can be viewed on Comcast channel 194 or campus cable channel 65.


Last November, R.B. Morris, sometimes coined the “bioballadeer,” served as the first songwriter-in-residence. He wrote and performed “Science for the People,” a song showcasing how scientists have brought technology, such as cellular phones, laptops, televisions and day-to-day weather reports, to the hands of the everyday person.

To listen to Morris’s song, visit

The program lasts through June.

NIMBioS is sponsoring the songwriter-in-residence program in conjunction with UT’s James R. Cox Endowment Fund. To read more information about the program, visit